Domestic violence is unique in that both the victim and the district attorney can take legal action against the abuser. Not all instances of domestic violence will result in a criminal charge. Sometimes, less severe cases of domestic abuse result in a domestic violence restraining order and nothing else. In more serious cases, the victim may call the police for protection. Bringing in law enforcement can, but doesn't necessarily, result in criminal charges being filed. Contrary to popular belief, the victim cannot press charges. Civilians cannot file criminal charges against anyone, nor can they control any part of the criminal prosecution process once it is underway. The role of your spouse in a domestic violence offense case is limited to the initial stages. Once your spouse notifies law enforcement, they will be asked questions about the situation. At that point, the law enforcement officer who spoke to your spouse may decide to file a complaint against you. This is their decision, not your spouse's. The compliant is filed with the prosecuting attorney, also called the district attorney, in the county where the crime was perpetrated. At that point, the process is taken over by the prosecution. Your spouse may be questioned further, but they will not be able to do anything to prevent you from being charged with a crime.
California has dedicated prosecution units that only handle the prosecution of domestic violence offenses. These units were created to aggressively prosecute offenders. That being said, once charges are filed, you are up against some odds. If you haven't already, now is the time to consult with an attorney about your case. While your spouse cannot press the charges against you, he or she may play a big role in the prosecution if their testimony is the strongest piece of evidence. A skilled attorney will know to how challenge such testimony, and this could result in your case being dropped.
It is important to note that many innocent people are charged and convicted of domestic violence offenses every day. False allegations are fairly common when it comes to these crimes. The alleged victim may think they can press charges to protect themselves, when they really should be getting a domestic violence restraining order. Criminal prosecution alone can't protect them. They must get a restraining order, and indeed this is a common first step in domestic violence cases. In most cases, a restraining order can be issued to protect the victim. Your spouse requesting a restraining order is not the same as them involving law enforcement to have charges filed. As long as you follow the guidelines the restraining order gives you, you will not go to jail or be charged with a crime. Disobeying the order, however, can result in a criminal charge with jail time and a fine for each violation. Your spouse does not have to report the violations. Anyone who knows you violated the order call law enforcement. For example, if the order dictates you are not allowed to pick your child up from day care and you do so anyways, the day care staff may call law enforcement and you could be charged. This is unfortunate because domestic violence charges are very serious and can have harsh repercussions. A domestic violence conviction could take away your gun ownership rights, cause you to lose your job, or even cause deportation. Consult with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney right away if you are facing domestic violence charges. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can contact the district attorney. An attorney may be able to reach the district attorney before charges are filed and have the case dismissed altogether if the allegation was false or embellished. Even if charges are filed, the sooner you involve legal representation the better chance you have at a successful defense.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you navigate the criminal prosecution process. Attorney Martens has over ten years of exclusive criminal defense experience and will fight hard for your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.